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Photo: Courtesy Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Del., 1959.2645
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Bureau table


Object number

RIF1430

Maker

Maker: attributed to John Townsend, American, 1732–1809

Dimensions

Height: 87.63 cm (34 1/2 in.); Width, top: 93.345 cm (36 3/4 in.); Width, feet: 95.25 cm (37 1/2 in.); Depth, top: 51.435 cm (20 1/4 in.); Depth, feet: 53.34 cm (21 in.)

Date

1785–1795

Current location

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

Geography

Made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Mahogany (primary); mahogany (vertical blocks of rear feet, vertical block of proper-right front foot, and brackets of rear feet); chestnut (backboards, bottom board, front batten, side glue blocks for top, glue blocks at case front, horizontal blocks of feet, kick bar for upper drawer, and some drawer supports); yellow-poplar (drawer linings and cabinet shelf); white pine (cabinet walls, some drawer supports, vertical blocks of proper-left and interior front feet); hard maple (backing of top drawer divider); soft maple (rear batten and board under top drawer)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“C,” in graphite, on interior bottom of proper-right bottom drawer; “D,” in graphite, on interior bottom of proper-left upper drawer; illegible graphite letter, on interior bottom of one of middle drawers; compass work, incised on exterior back of proper-right middle drawer; “1 [later?],” in graphite [written over faint illegible graphite], on upper surface of drawer divider under proper-right top drawer; “B” and “2 [later? ],” in graphite, on upper surface of drawer divider under proper-right middle drawer; “C[?],” in graphite, on upper surface of front rail under proper-right lower drawer; “D D” and “3 [later?], in graphite, on upper surface of drawer divider under proper-left top drawer; “E” with “4 [later? ],” in graphite, on upper surface of drawer divider under proper-left middle drawer; “F,” in graphite, on upper surface of front rail under proper-left lower drawer; illegible graphite, on upper surface of board under top drawer; “Jo[hn?]” and other illegible script, in graphite, on underside of case

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969), Winterthur, Delaware, by 1929; given to Winterthur Museum, Delaware, 1960

Associated names

Henry Francis du Pont

Construction

The solid top board, which is ogee molded and overhangs the front and sides but is flush on the back, is keyed to battens across the sides. Below the battens, three blocks are glued along the front; continuous glue blocks are nailed to the sides. An applied cove cornice molding is nailed to the case. An applied cock-bead is nailed to the underside of the top rail with rosehead nails. The top blade, backed with maple and attached to the sides on a long sliding dovetail, runs the full depth of the case. The rails between the small drawers are of solid wood. The rails have beaded edges around the drawers; the beading on the side boards is applied. The drawer fronts have a flat inner surface; the top edges of the sides are rounded; the bottoms overlap the sides and back and have applied battens. The projecting shells are applied on the top drawer; the grain of the drawer bottom runs side to side. The blocking on the small drawers is cut from solid wood; the grain of the drawer bottom runs front to back. The drawer runners are nailed to the sides and to the internal stiles forming the cabinet. Behind the recessed block-and-shell-carved solid cabinet door is a single plain medial shelf with rounded front edge. The bottom board is joined to the case sides with large, even dovetails with narrow throats. A deep rail from which the base molding is carved separates the drawer from the bottom of the case leaving an open space of more than an inch. The base molding is glued to the case. The bracket feet are glued to the bottom of the base molding; each front foot is reinforced with a shaped vertical glue block flanked by horizontal blocks. The side of the rear legs projects beyond the back of the case. The rear feet have a shaped rear bracket attached on a sliding dovetail. Quarter-round moldings are applied between the front legs and on the sides; the molding below the recessed cabinet is a shaped continuous piece. The back is two lap-joined horizontal boards attached with wrought nails to rabbets in the sides. Source: Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur, (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 388.

Notes

Other bureau tables attributed to John Townsend include RIF 231, RIF 271, RIF661, RIF1784, RIF1785, and RIF3607. A variation, also attributed to John Townsend, has a cupboard that is not recessed, see RIF210 and RIF 1431.

Bibliography

Loan Exhibition of Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century Furniture and Glass, exh. cat. (New York: American Art Galleries, 1929), n.p., no. 629, ill.
Joseph Downs, American Furniture: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods in the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum (New York: MacMillan Company, 1952), no. 175, ill.
Wendell D. Garrett, "The Newport Cabinetmakers: A Corrected Checklist," Antiques 73, no. 6 (June 1958): 558–561, ill.
Helena Hayward, ed., World Furniture: An Illustrated History (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1965), fig. 712.
The Line of Beauty: The Rococo Style (New York: Crescent Books, 1982), 137, ill.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 161, fig. 3.84.
Jay E. Cantor, Winterthur (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1985), 143, ill.
Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 387–388, no. 190, Winterthur accession no. 59.2645, ill.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005), 128, no. 24, ill.
Jennifer L. Anderson, Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012), 43, fig. 1.2.